Nenana Wellness Coalition
May 13, 2014
The Nenana Wellness Coalition is an alliance of representatives from various organizations, government agencies, community groups and individuals that meets weekly to discuss, evaluate, coordinate, consolidate, celebrate, masticate and help implement plans for improving the wellness and quality of life in Nenana Alaska.
We had eight participants today: Kat McElroy, Jessica Durtsche, Mary Alexander, Bonnie Reed, Virginia Young, Tim Horn, Miles Martin, and Amie Verhagan. We enjoyed Shepard’s Pie, steamed kale and Ritz crackers with sliced cheese for lunch.
WELCOME and READING OF MISSION STATEMENT: By this week’s chairperson, Jessica Durtsche.
PRAYER was lead by Virginia Young, followed by the PLEDGE OF ALLEGIENCE.
PRESENTATION OF AGENDA AND CALL FOR MODIFICATIONS: There were no additions to the agenda.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES: Posted at the WIN link at http://www.railbelt.org and submitted electronically to the WIN e-list with no reported issues.
INTRODUCTION OF GUESTS: No guests today.
Nenana Blood Drive: Leon has posted flyers for the next blood drive which is scheduled to be held June 25, 10 A.M. – 2 P.M.at the Tribal Hall. Tim will be away from June12-20th. She will addendum the flyers with her cell number so that registrants may contact her at her home phone.
Still Wild: Miles Martin began his remarks by explaining that his latest book is the third in a series which he anticipates will have a total of five. The books depict his life in Alaska from raw novice when he initially entered the country in the early 1970’s to the present. This third book deals with the years 1987-1994 at the height of his subsistence life style and as he first began to shift into living in town. The book includes many photographs as well as snippets from his correspondence over the years with family, friends, and customers.
Miles said that the material for all of his books has been lifted directly from his extensive diaries and letters written during the time of the actual events. He said that he also employs a technique he calls past flash and forward flash to deal with events in historical context. He got this idea from radio programs that feature Golden Oldies or music from other eras that set a certain tone. This allows him to blend past, present and future, to help delineate time-frames in his story-telling style. The initial book in the series, he said, was written and re-written four different times on a manual typewriter as he edited and reshaped the manuscript. Subsequent books in the series were generated on computer, which created different dynamics and challenges to the writing process. This book was generated entirely on Word: cover, photos and captions, text, everything, and Miles indicated that he uses eidetic memory when writing, a skill he also finds helpful in his art works. He can pull a picture from his memory and hold it clearly in his head to draw or write about. Miles indicated that he intends his books to work on multiple levels, from a simple shoot-‘em-up, to a basic how-to, to exploring deep philosophical questions and social and cultural norms.
In Still Wild, Miles is examining a pivotal time in Alaskan history. In his first book, he says, he is young, inexperienced, naïve. He is just learning how to survive in the wild. The second book is about his learning curve as he gains skills and expands his sphere of influence in life. The third book really focuses on the3 dramatic changes that occurred, creating great shifts in how people live and look at life. He cited as an example a flight during his initial years in bush Alaska. Although he had a loaded side arm, he was seated on the little plane in the front right next to the pilot. His being armed was not looked upon askance, nor deemed unusual or dangerous. When he mentioned he was a trapper and that they were flying over his trap-line shack, the pilot diverted to make a closer fly-over so he could check to see his dogs were being tended all right. When the plane landed in Galena, the pilot pointed Miles to a tin shed, instructed him to go there and pay for his flight, then took off again. Miles asked the clerk there what would happen if he just took off without bothering to pay. The woman told him, “You flew here; you have to fly to get back out. We’d collect then. Or we’d put you on a list and you’d not fly anywhere with us again.” Discussion ensued how ideas and attitudes have changed in the past several decades about trusting strangers, about safety and security.
Miles said that he learned early in his writing that you cannot please everyone all the time, no matter how hard you try. Over the years, he has learned the importance of being true to yourself. Some people have accused him of stretching the truth. He sees it more as, “everyone sees things differently.” He used as an example two people talking about buying strawberries. One person might describe what store they went to, where they parked, what the price of the berries was. The other person may only remember how the berries smelled, how they tasted, what it felt like eating them, but would be unable to provide information about where they bought them or what the price was. He said he views his writings as more in the realm of historical fiction. Kat suggested the term is Creative Non-fiction, or Faction.
Some of the changes in Alaskan life that his books explore have been land use, social mores, and environmentalism/conservation. For instance, when Miles first came to Alaska, he would spend up to eight months in the bush without seeing another person. Dogs were his primary transportation and the dogs set the pace for his life on the trapline and to a large extent dictated routine. Over the decades, he obtained a snow machine. Trapping regulations had changed and the rules now called for trapped furs to be tagged within fifteen days of being taken. This necessitated many more trips to town and the time it took to run his dogs several hundred miles to get his furs tagged took away from the time he had to run his trapline. The snow machine was introduced as a time savings method but brought with it a dramatic shift in perspective and practical reality. Changes in subsistence rules made it difficult to know from year to year if he would be allowed to take enough fish to feed his dog team, thus resulting in his having to buy dog food for the team as well as gas for the snow machine. This is one example of the dynamics of bush life being altered over time his stories depict. Some aspects of living in the bush are timeless, he said, while most of town life is about constant change.
He said he had dreamt of living like a mountain man but practical reality he wanted to be able to own his property. All the legalese of contracts and lawyer-speak were confusing to him. Entering into the world of contracts and laws was problematic. The rules are so different between the two worlds of bush life and town life. He considers his writing to be a mission. There are so many divisions between us as people, he said. He would like his books to act as a way to humanize the differences from one side to the other. In this way, he views himself to be something like a shaman, living in two different worlds but belonging really to neither, acting as a conduit to both.
Miles had his original book printed in Germany; it is a process called Print on Demand and is a good deal for people wanting only a couple hundred copies of a book. He markets his books himself and has more printed as needed. Print On Demand services are now available in Alaska and he has been using Pitt Printing in Anchorage. Copies of his latest book are available for $25.00
Miles is editing his fourth book and has one more in the series he intends to write. He furthermore wo0uld like to write another book that is not based on the memoir of his life in Alaska but which looks more specifically at some of the legal issues that have manifested in his life in regards to subsistence, land use, art and antiquities.
WELLNESS THOUGHT: Keep your words thoughtful; use them with care. You may be the only voice of reason in the room. Anonymous
Don’t forget, Clean-Up Day is slated for May 16th in Nenana. This event begins with the Here Comes the Sun Fun Run at ten AM. Community BBQ begins at 11 at the school. The Freecycle will begin that evening at 5:30 at the RV Park or if the weather in inclement at the Civic Center. Everyone is invited and people are encouraged to bring a food dish to share and any items for give-away.
Bonnie: Spring music concert is Wednesday night, 6 PM, in the gym at NCPS. 5-27-14 is the Ice Classic annual meeting at the Civic Center. All residents of Nenana over the age of 18 are invited to vote for the new Ice Classic board members. Dinner afterwards.
Amie: Her baby is due in less than three weeks. Her mother will be coming up in two weeks for a visit. She is really excited.
Today was the last day of the Health Challenge. It went really well. They had 20 participants and they plan to do it again as an eight week challenge this time, starting June 11th.
Miles: He has hung the sign for the Summer Market. The city assembly didn’t have a quorum Thursday evening so they reschedule for Wednesday 5-14-14, 6 PM. He will ask at that time about getting the little cabin moved from the old TCCC campus to their site by the Taku Chief, Tentative opening date for the market is Memorial Day weekend.
Tim: Community dinner Thursday night, 6:30 PM, at the tribal hall. Graduation at NCPS is Sunday, 2 PM, in the gym. May 23 is the last day of school.
Thursday, May 22 is the Bahai’i holiday, The Declaration of the Bab and will be celebrated starting 9 PM at the Horn residence.
May 30th Memorial Day BBQ and grave clean-up up on the hill
June 2nd , 3 PM is a hillside ceremony for Gilbert Ketzler.
Mary: Really enjoyed Mother’s day. They cleaned up behind Grandma Nina’s house.
Virginia: She and Taj are slowly moving out to the farm for the summer, and into her busy working season of peony production. She had several people pitch in and do clean up around her house on First Street. The grandkids from next door got involved and they did a really good job.
Kat: Will be out on annual leave for the next six weeks, to tend to the garden and begin work out on the Cosna property.
ADJOURNMENT: 2:15 PM